'A Bit of a Do - Complete Series'
(David Jason, Nicola Pagett, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / (1989) 2010 / Acorn Media)
Overview: David Jason (Only Fools and Horses) leads a stellar ensemble cast in this acclaimed British comedy based on books by David Nobbs (The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin). Set in a small Yorkshire town where secrets are impossible to keep, it pokes fun at class distinctions while creating genuine, believable characters. Reflecting the comedic pedigree of its creator and cast, each episode blends humor and pathos with sharp writing and surprises.
DVD Verdict: 'A Bit of a Do' is much like the battle of the lower social classes vs. the outright snobbery of the upper classes - all set, theatrically most times, to bouts of stereotypical British verbal clangers!
Going in, I actually assumed it would be a laugh-out-loud comedy, especially as Britian's loveable character actor David Jason ('Only Fools and Horses') was the lead man here. But no, it isn't for what this show is (in it's two year series run) is a dark, black comedy - with large elements of episode reiteration and awkward jovial banter scenes!
The first episode (of which every single episode opens with a cast character on the phone, relating to a friend that they cannot be with them that day as they have a 'bit of a do' to attend) sets the scene, and the prat falls thereafter. Entitled 'The White Wedding,' Ted's (Jason) son Paul (David Thewlis - 'Harry Potter') is marrying Liz's (Nicola Pagett) daughter Jenny (Sarah-Jane Holm). With no laughter track, a lot of time is spent building up scenarios just to watch them be brought down (sometimes) seconds later!
In 'The Dentist's Dinner Dance,' Liz and her husband Lawrence (Paul Chapman-'As Time goes By') invite Ted and his wife Rita (Gwen Taylor) to a bit of a do, and when the couple show up somewhat overdressed for the occasion, ridicule is par the course for the remainder of the evening. The same characters, the same faces, the same problems are on parade here again (and throughout the entire series'), Ted is now having Tuesday flings with Liz, and (thankfully) Paul has gotten rid of his mullet!
A recent widower, Solicitor Neville Badger (Michael Jayston) is quite easily the best actor - save for Jason - on display here. His role as the still much-so grief stricken widower is priceless. Come the end, Liz tells Ted that she's pregnant with his child and so come the final scenes, Liz and Ted have left their respective partners and gone off together!
One brilliant, and quite true quote said in this episode is, "I'm British, Liz. I can't let my feelings come bounding out!"
In 'The Angling Club Christmas Party,' although he's settled now with his (still) wife, Ted invites Lawrence and all his friends to his very own Christmas do. Neville arrives costumed as Henry the VIII in what is a masterfully grand entrance! Here we have a little bit of blackmailing, the quote of the episode in, "I'm finding it difficult to be understood tonight" ... "Pardon?", and some beautiful real-life singing by Rita on stage re: Hark The Herald Angels.'
In 'The Charity Horse-Racing Evening,' the fundraiser for a local theatre brings everyone out together once more re: a social gathering. Ted is now bankrupt, Liz has left him, and his daughter has given birth to a son. And said son of Ted is now having an affair with another girl!
In 'The Crowning Of Miss Frozen Chicken (UK),' we get treated to some everyday-looking women trying to win said contest, although some beggar belief re: if they seriously would have considered themselves 'bikini material'! Blackmail runs rampant once again, Rodney (Tim Wylton), Ted's oldest mate buys Ted's old factory grounds, pissing Ted off royaly, Paul's affair is down to just pure regret, Liz professes her love for Neville, and something 'fowl' happens at the event!
In 'The Registry Office Wedding,' Rita has a boyfriend, Liz marries Neville, Ted works as a waiter in the local restuarant (that they happen to have the reception at!), and for some strange reason, Rita's hair has grown, is wild, and chock full of hairspray! It also turns out, halfway through, that Liz's husband Lawrence committed suicide in his dentist chair! Also, Carol is now dating Paul's brother Elvis (Wayne Foskett), and in the season-ender, Rodney let's his chickens run free out onto the motorway!
Season two opens with 'The Church Wedding,' in which Rita is now to marry a much-younger man in Gerry (David Yelland). But, much like most do's these guys group together for, something goes wrong - this time in the form of the bride not showing up! Ted finds love (young love) in the form of a waitress at his resturant, Sandra (Tracy Brabin), Rodney is opening a health food store/resturant with his wife, Betty (the always-great, Stephanie Cole), and although Rita finally shows up the reception, it still leaves Gerry on the honeymoon plane alone.
In 'The Christening,' Liz's son is christened (in an adorable scene), Rita becomes a Counselor, it's obvious that Paul (Thewlis, is now going to be completely absent from the whole of this season!), and Ted is now engaged to mystery woman, Corinna Price-Rodgerson (Diana Weston). Also, more secrets are revealed within families before the episode is over!
In 'The Grand Opening of Sillitoe's,' our friendly, newly-sober Sillitoes throw the doors open on their grand opening night. They expect great things from the mouths of their friends re: their non-alcoholic health food complex and restaurant, but then again, they did invite their friends, now didn't they!
In 'The Farewell Party,' Ted throws his own fancy dress going away do, but suddenly has to reveal to all that his soon-to-be-wife was arrested at the airport trying to use a dodgy passport - and that all his money has gone too! Liz and Rita come dressed identically as Queen Elizabeth, and a BIG reveal (further) comes Ted's way. Simon (Nigel Hastings) proposes to Lucinda (Amanda Wenban), and Paul (off screen) gets arrested! Oh yeah, Elvis is now with his brothers (ex)-wife, Jenny!
In 'The Inauguration Of The Outer Inner Relief Ring Road,' its planned course affects a few of Counselor Rita's friends, but doesn't seem to truly bother her that much. Her son, Paul has just been jailed for six months, Ted tries to get back with the waitress, Sandra, Rita is now with Liz's brother, Geoffrey Ellsworth-Smythe (Malcolm Tierney - 'Lovejoy'), and Eric the waiter (Malcolm Hebden - 'Coronation Street') has a shining star moment, all to himself!
In 'The Funeral,' we are all left guessing to whose funeral we are witnesing, long into the tenth minute of the episode - until, three hearses pull up and we see Liz and her kids step out. Meaning that the lovely Neville has passed away. It seems, via a nasty car accident where the now-heavily-bandaged-and-plaster casted Ted was a passenger! Simon turns out to be a corrupt estate agent, Elvis is a journalist and out to get the scoop, Geoffrey proposes to Rita, and Betty professes her love for her very own Rodney!
In the final episode of season two, which also turned out to be the final episode of the entire series, 'The Civil Wedding,' two weddings take place on the same day, at the same (kinda) time, and feature Ted and Sandra, and Rita and Geoffrey! Past issues back at the usual hotel/bar are laid out, souls bared, bygones made bygones - eventually! In other episode news, Elvis has outted Simon from his job, Lucinda gets him a better one, Paul's out of prison and fishing, Jenny's back with Paul, Rita and Ted have one, final passionate kiss goodbye, and Liz hits on Elvis!
As Rodney and Betty rightly say come the end, "We hope you all live happily ever after" ... "although," under her breath, "I'm not taking any bets on it!" Oh, and quickly, the interview with Nicola Pagett I was so looking forward to watching, thinking it was new, but it is from 1989, done by Gloria 'Hairspray' Hunniford, and has about as much depth of excitement to it as watching paint dry! David Nobbs' isn't much sprightlier, but at least being newer has him revealing show tidbits that he'd "long since forgotten about." These are all Full-Screen Presentations (1.66:1) and come with the Special Features of:
Interviews with star Nicola Pagett and writer/creator David Nobbs